Languishing: What to do if you’re feeling restless, apathetic, or empty

What's the difference between languishing and depression?

1/25/2022 9:57:00 AM

Feeling empty during the pandemic? Chances are you are languishing, which may ultimately lead to anxiety and depression.

What's the difference between languishing and depression?

anxiety or depression.Many people may even have experienced – or may still be experiencing – languishing without really even knowing what it is or why they’re feeling that way. In fact, an international study which looked at data from participants in 78 different countries between April and June 2020 found that 10% of people experienced 

languishing during the pandemic.The causes of languishing are different for every person – though they may result from many factors, such as stress, trauma, or even a change in routine. But the good news is that languishing, and there are many things you can do to improve your mental state.

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If you’ve been feeling restless, apathetic, or even emotionally empty since the pandemic began, you may be “languishing.” Languishing is described as an emotional state of limbo, aimlessness, and low mood, which can last for a long time. But while languishing isn’t itself considered a mental health disorder, it could ultimately lead to anxiety or depression . Many people may even have experienced – or may still be experiencing – languishing without really even knowing what it is or why they’re feeling that way. In fact, an international study which looked at data from participants in 78 different countries between April and June 2020 found that 10% of people experienced  languishing  during the pandemic. The causes of languishing are different for every person – though they may result from many factors, such as stress, trauma, or even a change in routine. But the good news is that languishing , and there are many things you can do to improve your mental state. Must Read Study paints grim picture of some Filipino employees’ state of mental health Languishing versus depression Languishing can be a precursor for depression or exist alongside depression. But while the two may share some similarities, they also differ in many ways – mainly in how the symptoms present themselves. Depression can be characterized by emotional, mental, behavioral, and physiological symptoms – including fatigue, sleeping too much or too little, weight loss or gain, negative thoughts, negative feelings, or suicidal thoughts. Languishing shares some of the symptoms with depression, such as having negative emotions. But it’s also characterized by not feeling in control of your life, feeling like you aren’t able to grow or change, and not engaging with your community (including with friends or family). Though languishing isn’t considered a mental health disorder, it can still be challenging to bear – and may even be more difficult than experiencing depression for some. Research that compared the experiences of people with mental health disorders with those experiencing languishing found languishers were more likely not to know what they wanted out of life, found setting goals for the near future unhelpful, or didn’t take action when faced with adversity. On the other hand, people with depression, anxiety, and even alcohol dependence felt more likely to find planning helpful, take action to improve their situation, and know what outcome they wanted from their life. These contrasting experiences give us some insight into why languishing can be such a challenging state to experience. Being diagnosed with a mental health condition means people may better know how to tackle their situation and make improvements, or may at least be able to access services and treatments (such as therapy) that can help them. But as languishing isn’t considered a mental health disorder, people may not know why they feel the way they do, and they may not be able to get the help they need from their GP or other mental health services. That isn’t to say depression isn’t a challenging condition to experience. But as languishing can very well turn into depression, it’s important to take action and do something to improve your mental health as soon as you can. Must Read [Two Pronged] Depression, anxiety, and burnout Getting better To understand how to reduce languishing, it’s important to understand the difference between languishers and flourishers (people who experience high levels of mental health). We know from previous research that flourishers are seven times less likely to experience depression than people with